On the 8th of February, 2013, at Trinity Prayer House, 33 year old Prema, a bride with a thousand dreams, leaned on the arm of her beloved Philip Joseph, her face flush with joy. 2 months later, and she wishes she was a widow instead. Her ‘so called’ husband had turned out to be a fraud of the highest order.
|Philip and Prema on their 'sham' wedding day.|
Prema was left at home with her mother in law who began steadily harassing, insulting, and verbally abusing her. At first when she told Philip about it he appeared to take her side and asked her to forbear until he could make arrangements for her to join him. As the harassment grew worse, and Prema’s calls to him grew more frantic, and her complaints more plaintive, he turned an about face and said she just had to adjust to the situation and he could do nothing about it. She would have to live and die with his mother and he would not be coming back to collect her.
Prema says that her mother in law used to hire young boys as labour for her house building work and pay them not in cash but with bottles of military liquor. She even made Prema herself carry the bricks for the house building insisting that there was a scarcity of labour, even when she reported that she may be pregnant.
“Do you think you’ll go to Delhi with my son? You have to live under this roof, obey me, and work as a tailor to earn your living. Understand?” was the kind of thing she had to hear day in and day out.
Philip's mother even made a demand for dowry, stating that she would create a ruckus outside the home of Prema’s brother, if they did not accede to her demands. Suresh, a successful businessman in Gandhipuram, CBE, humbly acquiesced to the request as he wanted his sister to be comfortable and unharmed. He arranged for the delivery of several household goods overnight, including a double bed, a bureau, a washing machine, and a dining table with chairs.
When her mother in law raised a hand on her, and her cries to her husband over the phone went unheard, Prema decided to go back to her mother’s home for a while and asked her brothers Suresh and Jayprakash to help her with the issue. The family discussed the problem with the husband who was out of the state at the time. He at times flatly denied the accusations, at other times agreed that his mother could be a dragon, then a few days later would turn around again and say it had all been a misunderstanding and he would be sending for Prema soon. This fluctuation in his devotions went on for almost a fortnight before the eldest brother Jayprakash, a driver for an established company in Coimbatore, began his investigation into the matter.
Husband or Stranger?
The family traced a misunderstanding between Philip and the pastor of a church in Mettupalayam. The Pastor told them that the man had been married before and had even brought his son for dedication to the church. (This pastor, for reasons unknown refused to confirm these incidents as a witness.)
Further investigation into the matter revealed that Philip had already been married three times before. Once to a girl named Divya which had ended in divorce, the second to Pushpalatha in Mettupalayam district of Tamil Nadu with whom he had a daughter aged 8, and the third to Ramya residing in Ganapathy, CBE, with whom he had fathered a son aged 2 years, and a daughter just 20 days old. Prema seemed to be the fourth wife so far. And Philip had married her around the same time his child with Ramya was being born.
Jayprakash met Pushpalatha’s family in Mettupalayam for more details and was shocked by what he heard. The man’s modus operandi seemed to be preying on unsuspecting timid village girls, the more docile and ignorant the better. He would approach the family with the claim of a permanent military job and a good standing in society. He would marry them, go off on the pretext of being called on duty, but not before he took their gold and pledged the same for the ongoing construction of his various houses. After this mother and sister would dutifully begin the process of demeaning and harassing the girl to such an extent that she would voluntarily run off to her mother’s home, and when her calls to her husband went uncared for, would timidly accept her fate and fade into the background, afraid of what society would have to say about the matter.
He even took the signatures of the girls on a blank bond paper, stating that he would be able to get a job for them through the military quota and that the document had to be submitted urgently. This document would then be used to defraud the girls further. In the case of Pushpalatha, Philip used the signed bond paper to state that her father had borrowed Rs. 1.5 lakhs from him to purchase an auto rickshaw and has not returned the money to him yet. In Ramya’s case, Rs. 2 lakhs was said to be borrowed by her aunt. The bond paper also states that the girls had married Philip of their own accord in spite of knowing about his previous marriages.
|Philip Joseph aka Dilip Joseph|
Philip and his family would confiscate the new wife’s gold, and educational qualification and work experience certificates to render them powerless if they ever grew privy to their intentions. When the torture at home became too much for her, the wife would either leave home in misery seeking solace at her parents’ or relative’s house, and either retreat in silence or file for divorce. Philip never attended any divorce filings, nor did he provide any future form of financial support or maintenance to the women he had bedded. If pressed the family would deny all claims to pay up alimony as the marriage had not been registered with the military.
Married to the Devil – A Life of Torment
The family consisted of Philip’s mother, sister Usha, and Usha’s 2 children. The family followed a pattern of hedonistic and riotous living. They included excessive meat in their diets, but asked the young wives to preserve ¼ litre of milk for 4 days at a stretch. All Philip’s victims have reported that they saw the family drink liquor together, consume vast quantities of meat licentiously, and then practice immoral relations with each other.
If the girl became pregnant, she would be tormented further. Money would be withheld from her. She would not be permitted to live in comfort at home, would not be given any food to eat, would be demeaned and abused constantly, and made to work a labourer's tasks . There would only be ration rice stored in containers in the house, and if the girl complained of hunger, she would be asked to fend for herself and eat what was available.
Philip’s second victim Pushpalatha was 16 years of age when he married her. A blushing bride with a young girl’s notion of romance, she loved accompanying her husband everywhere. She remembers one incident distinctly as the wheel that set her ruin in motion.
“We had gone out one evening to an ice cream parlour. Since I was young and pretty looking, many of the neighbourhood boys were casting looks in my direction. Then a passing acquaintance asked if Philip was my father, because he seemed quite old for me, as so he was. This enraged him so much that he flung the bowl of ice cream on my face in front of all the people in the shop. I was so humiliated.” says Pushpalatha of that day.
She also reported unimaginable abuse from Philip’s mother and sister.
“Usha would hold me and his mother would beat me up. They did not spare me even when I was pregnant. My mother-in-law made me stand on the house’s open terrace in the heat of the sun in the afternoons as punishment for some misdeed, and threaten me with beatings if I did not obey. She would say, “You are so proud of your looks, your fair complexion, let the sun darken it then, so that no one will look at you!”
When Pushpalatha delivered a baby girl Philip was afraid that the family home in Perinaickenpalayam, Udagainagar, would ultimately belong to her as his only ‘waris’, so at the insistence of his mother, he made out the house deed in his sister Usha’s name.
Philip’s third victim, Ramya was driven home after being tortured by her mother-in-law when she was pregnant with her first child. Sometime after the child was born, to soothe the issue, Philip who was home off duty brought her back home where he impregnated her a second time. Her first son was 2 years old when Ramya delivered her second baby.
Ramya did not have much milk, this being her second delivery, and there being no healthy food given her. The child was growing leaner and required cow’s milk or at least a milk powder concoction. Philip’s mother refused to give her either. So Ramya fed her child a paste of ‘sakth maav’ or ‘grain meal’ that was available in ration shops for new mothers. This was too hard for the infant to digest and he was affected with dysentery to which her heartless mother-in-law turned a blind eye and refused to help with money for the doctor or medicines.
Ramya knew that if she lived in the house anymore, her infant son might die so with a heavy heart she prepared to leave and go be with her aunt in Ganapathy. When Philip’s mother learned of this plan, she drove the girl out of the house at 10:30 pm in the night along with her two sons. A desperate Ramya was pursued far into the night by a gang of rowdies to scare her into never returning home again. Philip’s house was in an isolated area, and her aunt’s home being quite far away, Ramya sought sanctuary for the night in the home of a stranger, and asked for her younger brother to be contacted the next morning to come get her.
Her mother-in-law’s last words to her were, “I got my son married to you because he needed someone new to sleep with. Now, you can leave, I can do your part and sleep with my son myself.”
Are you cringing on hearing this? When Philip learned about this his rebuttal was that the elder son was not even his, and he had still assumed the role of father for the boy to protect Ramya from ruin, but since she was not getting along with his mother, he would not want to live with her anymore.
The Family from Hell
Philip had told all three of his victims different lies. He told Prema that his father was dead, and Pushpalatha and Ramya that he was missing. On investigation, Philip’s father is said to be alive and well in Bangalore with a new family. A deserter from the army, Mr. Arokya Das (Philip’s father) was found to have left his wife (Philip’s mother) because of her immoral relations and strange behaviour. He has 3 sons and 1 daughter from his second marriage.
Philip always spoke ill of his brother Stefan and brother-in-law Sundar. He said that they were womanizers and did not permit his wives to have much contact with them. His brother Stephen is also in the military (8 Madras regiment no. 2606537X). His brother-in-law Sundar, (Usha’s husband) too is employed in the military. Both are privy to Philip’s life of fraud and deceit and his mother and sister’s strong support. Yet, they have chosen to remain aloof from the situation and not to get involved lest they be dragged down with them in case the issue goes public.
Philip’s sister Usha also has a track of immoral and promiscuous living. Her first marriage ended in divorce for which she demanded an amount of Rs. 5 lakh in settlement. Her second husband is rumoured to be dead. Her third husband could not be traced. The fourth husband is her current one, Sundar. Sources have stated that Usha falsely claimed to have been raped by Sundar, so that their relatives could force him to marry her.
Philip’s mother was a cleaner in the military area where the family lived in Conoor, and lived immorally from a very young age. This was how she managed to secure jobs for her two sons in the military in the course of time.
Philip’s unit colleagues in 27 Madras Regiment (no.2601430W), have all stated that he was a man of loose character and a womanizer with a wife in every state, that he had never informed the regiment of his numerous marriages, and that he had been living a life of promiscuity for the past 16 years of service, of which they were all aware.
There is also a report in Thudilyalur Police Station of a North Indian girl arriving looking for a Philip Joseph who was employed in the military. She arrived with an infant and claimed it was his son, and that he had not been home in some time, so she had traced the address he had given her and come to seek him. The girl is reported to be lured home, severely beaten by Philip’s mother, and sent away.
1. Philip’s first wife was named Divya. The marriage and subsequent divorce was registered in military records.
2. Philip married Pushpalatha from Mettupalayam on 17th January, 2006. She was 16. He was 26. He left after 15 days and has not turned back since.
3. He married Ramya from Ganapathy, Coimbatore on 18th November, 2010, and lived with her for a month.
4. He married Prema from Ramnathapuram, Coimbatore on 8th February, 2013, and lived with her for 15 days.
His name on the wedding invites was different for each bride. With Pushpalatha it was D. Joseph; with Ramya: D. Dilip, and with Prema: P. Joseph.
His colleagues in the MRC and others who know the family in Conoor have stated that there are rumours that Philip has cheated other women in the same way in Rajasthan and Delhi, where he has been stationed in the past. Apart from these fake marriages, the man has left a slew of illegal relations.
Fight for Justice
It was Prema who after discovering his atrocities with the help of her brother Jayprakash, contacted Pushpalatha and suggested they put up a united front against Philip and demand justice. They approached the military court in Conoor and filed an FIR against the entire family in B7 police station, Puliyakulam, Coimbatore. The counts were dowry harassment, cheating, multi-marriage, and practicing fraud.
The victims then contacted the media and made the issue public on Tamil news channels Sun TV, Jaya TV, GTV, KTV, Lotus TV, Polimer, Makkal TV, Raj TV, and others. The report also appeared in Tamil magazines Kumudhan and Nakiran, and was published in Tamil dailies Dinakaran, Dinamlar, Dinathandhi, and Malaimalar. It also made an appearance in English Newspapers The Hindu and the Times of India.
On seeing the article with the photographs of the accused in Dinamalar, Ramya’s aunt was beside herself. This was how Ramya discovered that she was not the only victim of Philip’s evil. Ramya’s aunt and uncle immediately contacted the newspaper who led them to Prema’s house. And Ramya decided to join the fight against her criminal husband.
|(Philip's Mother Mary |
In order to escape arrest, Philip had filed a false affidavit stating that all allegations against him were false, that he had never married either Prema or Ramya, but Pushpalatha alone, that the marriage certificates were forged, the wedding invitations were false, and that the two parties had threatened his mother.
After a special appeal to the Commissioner of Police and submission of all required evidence, arrest warrants for the three were issued, and the police force nabbed Mary aka Rajammal, Philip’s mother and Usha on May 16th. They were interrogated and sent to Central Jail, Coimbatore on remand, and remained in custody for 15 days after which they were released on bail.
Philip Joseph is currently absconding and has been traced to Karnataka, and Madurai, Tamil Nadu. The police have extended their co-operation in the search and discharged men and facilities for the
The three women have visited MRC Conoor 5 times in all. They were helped in their investigations by military officials and many forthcoming colleagues of Philip. However on their last visit, for which they stayed on in Conoor for 2 days with the hope of resolving the issue with military clout they were met with great disappointment.
Their hope was dashed to pieces at a meeting with the CO of 27 Madras Regiment Y. D. Mallur and Subhedhar Major N. Raju. Briefed about the situation the two refused to entertain the three women who had made the trip with the three children in tow.
The response they got was “Get Out. We do not wish to see any of you here!”
The military officials concerned had stated that on May 7th, 2013. Philip would have to serve his last day. They had stated that they would cut his salary and withhold all retirement benefits from him. However the regiment in question has a record of leave granted to Philip on May 9th thus helping him to escape. Their response to the women’s plea clearly proves that they have helped the accused disappear so that their regiment’s name remains untarnished.
Since Philip’s mother and sister have been released on bail, they have been demanding Rs. 6 lakhs as compensation from Prema, Ramya, and Pushpalatha. Philip who may have political connections has been sending rowdies to the victims’ houses threatening them to take the case back. The men arrived at Prema’s home on the pretext of asking for a house on rent in the area. Prema’s sister-in-law saw 2 men on a bike twice. The same men visited the shop in Mettupalayam where Pushpalatha works. All three families are being stalked, threatened, and spied on.
This could happen to you!
Says Pushpalatha, “It was so difficult to face the society as a woman put away by her husband. I am not that educated, so it was very hard for me to bring up my daughter. She is 8 now. And till date, my husband has not bothered about her in the least. It has been too long. He has done this to others as well. I want to see justice done. I can’t rest until then.”
Ramya, the mildest of the three with a nursing child and a growing boy is in shreds.
“I didn’t even think such a thing could happen to me. I believed him completely. Sometimes I feel that I have no life, that it would be better for me to take my life.”
Ramya lives with her aunt, uncle, younger brother, two children, and a mother who is ill with cancer.
Prema who was a teacher in a respectable school in Coimbatore resigned from her job once she married Philip.
“He spoilt my life. He even took all my certificates. It’s not easy to get all of them back now. I am fortunate that I have a loving family to help me win this battle. God will surely help us get justice. I will not let this man rest until he brought to book for his crimes.”
Of the response of the criminal’s regiment superiors she says,
“If the people who have been set up to safeguard the nation today, refuse to safeguard and help defenceless women in their plight, for fear of spoiling their regiment’s name, then they will surely betray their nation tomorrow. All the military officials we met were sympathetic and respectful, but the CO of 27 Madras Regiment treated us with such contempt. This is not to be expected from a government servant, much less a military head.”
And what of Philip’s 3 children?
“There is no hope of his ever considering them as his own. However, whatever we manage to get as a settlement in court out of this should go towards their welfare.” says Prema.
The family plan to appeal to the Defence Minister as well as the Chief Minister’s cell.
Prema’s brother Jayprakash states, “The media is our biggest weapon. It can carry our word everywhere. So we appeal to the media. Do not let this issue die. We will fight until we get justice.”
(As told to Benita Serrao)
If you know his whereabouts,
or if he has approached you with an offer of marriage,
or if this same thing has happened to you in the past,
or if he has approached you with an offer of marriage,
or if this same thing has happened to you in the past,
Jayprakash: (00 91) 9842 230 240
Suresh: (00 91) 9894 088 299
Email: Prema: email@example.com
Send your comments and suggestions on how to deal with this case to as an appeal to:
Madras Regiment Abhilekh Karyalaya,
Records the Madras Regiment
C/o 56 APO.
C/o 56 APO
Or call: 0423 2282607
Women’s rights organizations and NGOs who can help us are welcome.